This magnetic media enthusiast built an 8-track tape "walkman"

Not really.

It predates 8-Track and is undergoing kind of a cult resurgence right now.

As a format, was immensely versatile and popular. It democratized self-production - not everybody could get a record pressed or a CD produced, but nearly anybody could record a cassette tape. The whole art of the hip hop mixtape wouldn’t have been possible without the technology.

And as far as formats go, it’s not all that bad - it just gets a bad rap. Even the sound quality can be really good with quality cassettes and the right equipment.


Such a weird format. Adapted from the 1 or 2-track ‘carts’ that were used in the 60s for radio ads/promos/etc.

Reverse was not possible, as there’s only one spool of endless tape inside. The tape supply comes from the center of the spool, across the playback heads, and then returns to the outside of the single spool.

I had an 8-track player/recorder that did have fast-forward, but it didn’t really move the tape faster than just playing it.


It’s coming back to me now. I actually had an 8 track in a car I used to own and it had FF functionality.

The car was from the late 1960s and was missing its radio, and I thought it would be funny to install an 8-track. I bought the head unit and a stack of tapes from a seller at the local flea market for like $20. After I got it all installed and functional, I realized I had made a horrible mistake.


8 track gets a lot of grief. It had superior sound to compact cassettes when it was introduced, mostly because it had double the tape speed. Cross tracking means your tape head is out of alignment. (heyyoukidsgetoffamylawn).


I was thinking more along the lines of pre-recorded tapes of albums…
When I was kid, I did appreciate the self-production aspect of the tapes, of course.
Us gen x’ers sharing music before the mp3.

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But, but, but - Home Taping Kills The Music Industry!

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That’s a good description of the 8-track player itself


Minus spyware.


I was looking through a pile of $2 8-Track tapes at a flea market and saw tons of cool stuff. Then I picked up Black Sabath’s ‘Paranoid’. “Oh, that one is $50,” the seller says. I made do with a $2 John Mayall. I wanted just one for my music collection, and the one I had before was a Michael Jackson greatest hits. Did you know that MJ and Elvis had a hit in the top ten at the same time? (While both alive) Always seems so anachronistic to me.


As long as I keep the doors locked.

Good 8-track systems could fast-forward, but not reverse, and some could even record. Where the hell my grandma dug up blank 8-track cassettes, even when they were a “thing”, I have no idea o.o’ .

Yes, you COULD record over a prerecorded cartridge by covering over a slot, much like cassettes, but she had honest-to-goodness blank 8-track cartridges with hand-written labels! I’m not sure how long they were, but roughly 45 minutes to an hour seems likely; most 12" vinyl albums record about 22 minutes/side.


Prepare for grandma story time.
It’s 1974. Our JCPenney home stereo (made by Magnavox) had a record player, AM/FM radio, and 8-track player and recorder. You could play a record and make an 8-track recording of it. I was not allowed to touch the stereo without permission.
I got a Dynomite 8 player for Christmas! The Kresge’s store had bootleg 8-tracks next to the cash register, and I picked up Queen as my first 8-track. None of the stores within easy bicycling distance had 8-tracks, and the only other ones available there were Glen Campbell and Elvis.
Great album, but I soon tired of it being the only portable album I owned. I had tons of records, and would love to have some of them as 8-tracks, so I decided I could talk my mother into letting me tape the albums onto 8-tracks, with her supervision. It worked. Now all I had to do was get blank 8-track tapes.
I figured my best bet was the mall. It had record stores there. But we didn’t go there just because I wanted to; no, there had to be a Reason. After all, it was twice as far as a trip to church. (This was during/after the oil embargo, which affected my parent’s gas purchases.) Eventually we had to make a trip to the mall for something, and I had my babysitting money in my pocket and a burning desire to find blank 8-tracks.
I tried all the record stores, and even the Wurlitzer store (I was desperate!). The guy playing the organ told me I could find them at the Audio-Technica store, which was somewhat near my high school. I made plans to stay at my best friend’s house overnight the next Friday, because she lived just a half-mile from Audio-Technica and went there regularly to listen to new albums in the rooms with the headphones. Bright and early Saturday morning, we headed to the audio store, where I found my blank tapes. $8.99 apiece. That was almost twice the price of an album! But I was committed. I bought one, listened to Steely Dan on the headphones, and went back to await being picked up to go home.
At home, I perused my album collection, and settled on 461 Ocean Boulevard. My mother gave me the instruction booklet for the stereo, and I recorded the album. Now I had 2 8-tracks!
The next trip to Kresge’s yielded Rush - Fly By Night and Led Zepplin 3. Over the years, I amassed about a dozen 8-tracks, some duplicates of records I had, because those blank tapes cost $4 more than a pre-recorded one, and $6 more than the Kresge bootlegs.
Then I met my first husband, and together we collected more than 400 8-tracks, because every one of our cars had an 8-track player.


I love it xD!

When I started buying records in 1978 (I started late), I could find lots of records for $3.99, if not lower.

I couldn’t afford or justify $8.99, especially not for blank tapes.

I did think abiut making cassettes but really just to limit wear on my records. But by the time I got a cassette deck in 1987, I couodn’t be bothered. I had the same plan when I got a cd writerin 2003, digitize thise records, but never made more than a few. I still haven’t even converted many CDs to MP3s.

I did pay fifty dollars for my first box of ten floppy disks in 1984. And I remember a friend spending quite a bit for videocassettes after he got his VCR in 1980.


Maybe a Nagra 4S TC would be a hipster alternative.

Being able to make your own mix tape or record off the radio is what really kept the cassette tape around for so long.

Playlists are no substitute for a well made mix tape.

We had a Betamax (of course). Those blanks were even more expensive!
But I still have those BetaMax tapes of Beatles movies taped off early cable.

Thing about Beta was, it had digital sound, about CD quality I think? There was even a mod, to turn Beta players and tapes into a bespoke DAT (Digital Audio Tape) system, that used the video space on the tape for multi-track digital audio recording.

I’m having a terrible time finding the article again, dammit; maybe it was in Byte magazine but possibly Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, or…? But it was fascinating and not terribly difficult to do; the hardest part was flashing an E/EPROM, IIRC.

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